One of the people on the planet that I admire very much is Sat Dharam Kaur, N.D. Back in 2006, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I discovered her book, The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Breast Cancer: A Practical Manual for Understanding, Prevention and Care. It is a great resource for breast health. I have also had the pleasure of taking Sat Dharam Kaur’s ‘Healthy Breast Program for Practitioners’.
Throughout the month of October, Sat Dharam Kaur posted 29 Breast Health Tip’s. I’ve compiled them all here for you:
Breast Health Tip #1
Read labels on cosmetics, avoiding phthalates and parabens (which act like the hormone estrogen). Products include sunscreens, perfumes, lotions, shampoos, conditioners, toothpaste, nail polish, hairspray, hair styling gels, shaving gels, deodorants, etc. Choose essential oils as an alternative to perfume.
Visit http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ to search cosmetic products to see what may be harmful in them.
Breast Health Tip #2
Do you notice red marks on your skin after removing your bra?
Avoid tight bras and underwire bras. Instead wear a looser, comfortable, cotton bra. Make sure there are no red marks on your skin after removing your bra. This is a sign that the tight bra has compressed your lymphatic vessels and reduced lymphatic circulation, making it difficult for the lymph to remove toxins from your breast tissue.
Breast Health Tip #3
Choose clothing made from natural, untreated materials, such as cotton, wool, hemp and silk. Read labels on clothing to ensure there are no flame retardants, particularly on pyjamas.
Flame retardants, known as PBDEs, are estrogenic chemicals that disrupt thyroid function and can increase division of breast cells, promoting cancer.
Avoid dry cleaning or use dry cleaning services that do not use perchloroethylene (PERC). PERC has also been linked to breast cancer.
Breast Health Tip #4
Switch to using non-toxic cleaning products derived from baking soda, vinegar, castile soap and thyme essential oil rather than chlorine-based products. Use white vinegar and newspaper for windows; baking soda for sinks; baking soda and vinegar for toilets; and white vinegar in a spray bottle for counters. Castile soap, made from olive oil, removes dirt and grease from houseold surfaces and laundry. Essential oil of thyme is equal to chlorine as a disinfectant, without its toxic side effects, and a few drops can be added to other homemade cleansers to boost their cleaning power.
Here’s an all-purpose, safe disinfectant recipe for wiping down counters and washable surfaces:
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar
2 tsp liquid castile soap
25 drops essential oil of thyme
Store in a glass bottle and transfer to a small plastic spray bottle when needed for use. Shake before using.
Breast Health Tip #5
When we sweat we encourage the release of environmental toxins from our fat cells, including those stored in breast tissue.
Exercise vigorously daily or spend at least an hour a week in the sauna (infrared if possible) to eliminate chemicals stored in your fat cells. At some point consider a 150-hour sauna detox program to eliminate most of your lifetime body burden of environmental chemicals. Many of these mimic the hormone estrogen. If we sweat out these environmental toxins before we conceive our children, we won’t pass them on in utero or through breastfeeding, improving the health of future generations.
Encourage your children to exercise to the point of sweating and/or to use the sauna as well.
Check with a naturopathic doctor about how to support yourself nutritionally during a sauna detoxification program, and to ensure that it is safe for you to proceed. Do not use the sauna if you have lymphedema.
Breast Health Tip #6
Weight gain after menopause or after a breast cancer diagnosis increases risk of breast cancer or a recurrence.
Love and accept your body as it is. Learn to listen to and respect it’s needs. Be aware of your emotional triggers and of how you use food to self-soothe. Adopt a dietary regime that works for you but is low in sugars, utilizes low glycemic carbohydrates, has an abundance of vegetables and is primarily vegetarian, built around organic soy, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices.
Exercise at least 40 minutes per day or 4 hours per week.
Breast Health Tip #7
What are acceptable water and food containers? How do you safely store your leftovers?
Store your water, liquids and leftover food in glass or stainless steel rather than plastic. Plastic containers often leach chemicals including bisphenol-A (labeled #7) or phthalates, that both mimic the hormone estrogen. Even the hard plastic polycarbonate containers leach bisphenol-A (BPA).
Acidic substances, such as vinegar, as well as oils leach chemicals from plastic. Purchase vinegar and oil in glass rather than plastic containers. Avoid containers with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) #3 and polystyrene #5 or Styrofoam. If you do use plastic containers rather than glass (as for freezing), choose those that contain polyethylene #1, 2, 4 or polypropylene #5. Their composition is less toxic.
Breast Health Tip #8
Sleep in a dark room and keep electrical devices at least 3 feet from your bed to decrease exposure to electromagnetic fields that may suppress melatonin production. Use a night light in the washroom. Avoid turning on a bright light at night so you can keep melatonin levels high.
Try to avoid shift work – it decreases melatonin levels and makes you more susceptible to breast cancer.
Did you know that prayer or meditation before bed can increase melatonin levels at night?
Breast Health Tip #9
Use 45 grams of fiber each day to ensure at least 2-3 bowel movements per day. This will help to regulate estrogen and insulin levels. Add 2 tablespoons of bran and/or chia seeds and 2 tablespoons freshly ground flaxseeds to your breakfast cereal, and eat 1-2 cups of legumes daily. Use whole grains and decrease bread. Take 1 tablespoon of psyllium seed powder in water before bed.
Breast Health Tip #10
Eat 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. One serving = 1 cup of salad or 1/2 cup steamed vegetables or 1 whole fruit. Include raw broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower daily to support liver detoxification pathways and breakdown of estrogen. Consider adding vegetable juice, or a green powder supplement if you find it difficult to get in your 8 servings. Eat fruit as snacks between meals.
Breast Health Tip #11
Minimize or avoid sugar, sweets, pastries and desserts, using fresh fruit instead. Sugar causes a rise in insulin, which increases breast cancer risk. Breast density is increased in part by a high sugar diet. Acceptable sweeteners are stevia and xylitol. Use the mineral chromium to help decrease sugar cravings. Keep blood sugar levels stable with protein snacks of hummus and vegetables or a few nuts and seeds.
Breast Health Tip #12
Eat garlic every day. Add it to green smoothies, salad dressing and salads, soups and stir fries. Garlic helps to stall cell division in breast cancer cells. It has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties, which helps to decrease the burden of infection and inflammation in the body.
Breast Health Tip #13
Use these spices regularly and liberally for their anti-cancer and anti-oxidant benefits: cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic, black pepper, cloves , basil, rosemary, sage, ginger, cardamom, anise, caraway, chili pepper, cinnamon, fennel, fenugreek, lemongrass, licorice root, mint, mustard seed, nutmeg, oregano, parsley, saffron, tamarind. Add turmeric to rice, stir fries, warm drinks and soups, or use curcumin as a supplement for it’s powerful cancer prevention properties.
Breast Health Tip #14
Use pots and pans that are steel clad, enameled or cast iron. Avoid aluminum and nonstick coatings such as Teflon. Teflon contains the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to cancer and birth defects.
Avoid canned food when the cans are lined with clear or white plastic. This lining is bisphenol-A, which acts like the hormone estrogen and stimulates breast cells to divide. Eden foods does not use Bisphenol-A in their cans. Cook more of your food from scratch to minimize toxins found in packaging.
Breast Health Tip #15
Supplement with 3000 milligrams of a good quality fish oil, algae oil or flaxseed oil daily to provide a healthy dose of omega 3 oil, which inhibits inflammation and cancer. Purchase flaxseed oil in a dark brown glass container, and use it on rice, pasta, beans and vegetables, after they are cooked, or in salad dressing. Never heat it and keep it refrigerated when not in use.
Breast Health Tip #16
Discontinue use of the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy, which both increase breast density and breast cancer risk, particularly if used for more than 5 years. Consult a naturopathic doctor to explore more natural solutions to regulate fertility and menopausal symptoms.
Breast Health Tip #17
If you are at a higher risk of breast cancer because of dense breasts, family history or use of the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy – avoid red meat, alcohol and sugar, and minimize saturated fats found in butter and cheese. Adopt a primarily vegan diet. Increase fiber intake, consuming 45 grams daily. Exercise 40-60 minutes daily. Drink rosemary tea daily and use turmeric, 2 Tbsp freshly ground flaxseeds and 2 Tbsp flaxseed oil in your food regularly. Use 3000 IU vitamin D3, 100 mg co-enzyme Q10, 300 mg Indole-3-carbinol, 100 mg B complex, 1500 mg curcumin, 1000 mg N-acetyl cysteine and 300 mg alpha lipoic acid daily.
Breast Health Tip #18
Avoid commercial fabric softeners, which contain harmful chemicals (formaldehyde) and fragrances (phthalates). Make your own fabric softener using baking soda or white vinegar.
Breast Health Tip #19
Minimize or avoid use of chlorine bleach. Chlorinated hot water can release chloroform, a known carcinogen. Use OxyClean, containing hydrogen peroxide, instead. Do not use toilet bowl deodorizers that contain paradichlorobenzene. Use lemon juice, borax, white vinegar, baking soda and/or vitamin C crystals instead to clean the toilet.
Breast Health Tip #20
Avoid artificial air fresheners and other scented products, which contain phthalates. Phthalates mimic the hormone estrogen, and exposure increases breast cancer risk. Use fresh flowers, essential oils or herbal potpourris instead. Choose beeswax candles, which emit fewer toxins than paraffin candles.
Breast Health Tip #21
Encourage your neighbourhood to be pesticide free if it is not already. Avoid tracking pollutants into your home by placing a doormat on the outside of each entrance to your home and a rug on the inside of each entryway. Remove outdoor shoes upon entry.
Inside your home, brominated fire retardants from carpets, curtains, mattresses, furniture and electronic equipment accumulate in the dust on your floor and in carpets. Brominated fire retardants mimic the hormone estrogen, disrupt thyroid function and increase risk of breast cancer. Avoid and/or remove carpeting wherever possible – carpeting retains toxins, especially harmful to toddlers and pets. Use natural fiber area rugs that you can take outside to air and clean. Vacuum regularly to remove dust.
Breast Health Tip #22
Okay ladies, what do you want to say “no” to? What are your pet peeves, the things that get under your skin?
Here’s the breast health tip: Take time to acknowledge your feelings and express them in a healthy way. Define your needs and ask for what you want, validating your self-worth. Put yourself first. Be assertive. Give yourself permission to express and be yourself.
Breast Health Tip #23
What are you good at? What do you love to do? What gives you meaning and joy? Invest your time and energy in activities, hobbies, volunteer work, relationships and/or causes that you feel excited about and that develop your skills and abilities.
Breast Health Tip #24
Surround yourself with groups of positive, like-minded individuals throughout your life who support and validate you. Remove yourself from people or environments where you are not acknowledged or respected.
Breast Health Tip #25
Adopt a regular spiritual practice (meditation, yoga, prayer, study of scripture, worship) that connects you to others and to spirit and strengthens inner peace, faith, hope, and love.
Breast Health Tip #26
Pray, meditate or do slow deep breathing exercises for at least 11 minutes before bed to increase melatonin levels. Melatonin is secreted between 1:00 – 3:00 a.m. and regulates our biological rhythms. Higher melatonin levels decreases breast cancer risk.
Breast Health Tip #27
It’s important to be calm and resilient when external demands generate stress. Stress undermines your immune system and pushes inflammation in the body, which makes us more susceptible to breast cancer and other illnesses. Take regular relaxation breaks every 2-3 hours throughout the day for 3-20 minutes to help alleviate stress. This is the perfect time to go for a walk, take a nap, listen to calming music, or practice a breathing exercise or meditation.
Breast Health Tip #28
What is your unresolved conflict? Have you been suppressing anger? Recognize the sensations of anger as they arise and identify what you feel and need in each situation. Call on your courage to assert yourself in stating your truth in a direct, yet compassionate way. Seek the support of a counsellor to work through difficult issues – it is OK to ask for help. You don’t need to do it alone. Resolve conflict as soon as it occurs rather than holding it inside.
Breast Health Tip #29
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is everywhere, and mimics the hormone estrogen. You’ll find it in cars (that new car smell), children’s toys, vinyl furniture, shower curtains, boots, raincoats, yoga mats, window frames etc. Avoid products that contain PVC and seek alternatives made from wood, metal, cloth, rubber or safer plastics such as polypropylene or polyethylene. Be an educated shopper, keeping the health of the planet in mind.